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Ancient Koguryo Kingdom


The Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo KingdomThe Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom includes the capital cities of Wunu Mountain City, Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City; fourteen imperial tombs; twenty-six noble tombs; a General's Tomb; and the monument to the nineteenth Emperor of the Koguryo Kingdom. These ancient remains are mostly located around Ji'an city in Jinlin Province and Huanren County in Liaoning Province in northeast of China. In 2004, the Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom in China were added to the United Nations list of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage.


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Koguryo was a kingdom that ruled part of northeast China and the northern-half of the Korean Peninsula from 37 BC to 668 AD. The remains we see today are evidence of its once splendid, but vanished, civilization. The ancient kingdom Goguryeo, occupying southern Manchuria (present-day northeast China), southern Russian Maritime province, and the northern and central parts of the Korean peninsula, was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, along with Baekje and Silla, for nearly seven centuries at the beginning of the first millennium. Considered an important regional kingdom in Manchuria by the People's Republic of China, Goguryeo actively participated in the power struggle for control of the Korean peninsula and as well conducted foreign affairs with associated polities in China and Japan.

Wunu Mountain City was the first capital city the Koguryo built, and it is also the earliest city of the one-hundred kingdom extant cities along the Yalu River. This mountain city was constructed by following Chinese architectural traditions but with great innovations in selecting location, building city walls, and processing stone. Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City were the compound capital cities for most of Koguryo's history, and they have been shown, through archeological and architectural studies on their remains, to be the masterpieces of the capital cities.

Ancient Koguryo Kingdom Ancient Koguryo Kingdom

There are about seven thousand tombs outside of the mountain city and many of them have exquisite murals, rich in content and color, showing the Koguryo kingdom's culture and daily life. Hunting, wars, religions (Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism), and other aspects of life are depicted.

According to archeological research, the General's Tomb--located northeast of Ji'an City--is said to be the tomb of the twentieth emperor. It looks quite like the tomb of the Pharaoh in ancient Egypt and thus was given the name: the Oriental Pyramid.

Ancient Koguryo Kingdom Ancient Koguryo Kingdom

So far, only three written relics have been found telling of Koguryo's history. Among them, the Hao Tai Wang monument (or stele) has the longest and richest content. The monument was built to commemorate the nineteenth emperor, and the inscription recorded the emperor's merits and achievements as well as the legend of the beginning and development of the Koguryo. Engraved in Chinese characters, the inscription shows the cultural blend of the Koguryo and the Chinese.

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